About a year ago, I did a series of posts on the topic of infertility. Strangely enough, this isn’t something I’ve personally battled, so if you are interested in reading more about why I began writing on this subject, you can find that here.
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with even more women who have experienced infertility; demonstrating that this struggle is actually quite common. As such, I’ve asked five women to share their story this week. Infertility doesn’t have to be fought alone, it isn’t shameful, and even in the midst of the struggle there is life to be found.
Today’s story is written by my friend Sissy. I first got to know Sissy when we taught at a charter school together, and then our paths intersected again when she and I started serving on the same team at church. She has been a valuable resource to me as I’ve asked questions and sought to learn more about infertility. I am so grateful for her and her heart!
Infertility: Sissy’s Story
In the past seven years I’ve talked about and written about infertility A LOT. It seems to come up in so many ways; with family, with friends, with co-workers and sometimes with strangers in waiting rooms. The thing is, though, that I’ve never really written down how God changed me in the process of dealing with being barren. That part, I’ve discovered, seems really personal.
When Amanda called me about sharing my infertility story, I thought about the blog I kept during that period and foolishly believed sharing this would be easy. But see, those words were sent out into the void to be commented on by strangers; other women dealing with infertility and hoping to adopt like we were. I think maybe two people I knew in real life were reading the blog, so there was this curtain of privacy around what I was writing. I was pouring out all these private and personal details, but not having to deal with people confronting me with my own words and emotions. I find that part makes me nervous.
When Charlie and I were dating I thought it would be a good idea to ask him about his feelings on possibly adopting children. You see, I somehow knew that I would have trouble getting pregnant, and wanted a future spouse to be on board if that came to pass. I believe God placed that knowledge deep within me, and I know it helped me later. My cycles were never regular; always very sporadic. I knew that wasn’t a good sign for fertility, and while I never thought of myself as damaged goods or anything, I felt it was important to bring it up.
About three years after getting married, we started trying to get pregnant. I talked with my OB-GYN and we discussed any factors that could hinder my fertility. She did some tests and I was diagnosed with Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS. I didn’t ovulate. This diagnosis confirmed what I’d felt from the beginning, that getting pregnant wouldn’t happen for me. My mind and my heart were moving towards adoption.
However, when I talked it over with Charlie, he asked if we could try getting pregnant with Clomid. This was a pill my doctor mentioned had worked for others. Having a natural child would be less complicated and less expensive than adoption. We talked and prayed and came to the decision that yes, we would try, but I could determine when and if I was done with the treatments. I decided that I would be happy to take any kind of pill, but would draw the line at shots.
We did four rounds of Clomid and I did not ovulate. I was charting my temperature to track my ovulation and the doctor was doing blood tests. The school year ended and I agreed to add another medicine to boost the Clomid called Metformin. My pharmacist warned me that Metformin can mess with your stomach, and I certainly found that to be true. If I ate something, I needed to be at home. It made me so sick. I spent that summer being drained of energy, run down, and unhappy. Finally, in August, I ovulated! It took seven rounds of Clomid for me to ovulate once. Sadly, I did not get pregnant.
That was enough for me. I had to go back to teaching for the new school year and I knew I could not take the Metformin and be at work. It made me miserable and I immediately felt better once I stopped taking it. I told Charlie that I was done, and he was okay with that. I grieved knowing I would not be able to carry a natural child, but the Lord’s preparation of my heart years before helped me work through this easier than if I had been blindsided by my diagnosis. He provided hope in that season.
At that point we began looking at adoption agencies. Our adoption story is a longer than I really have here to share. From signing up with our agency to bringing Jackson home, was a total of three years, seven months and 22 days. We had two placements that fell apart right as the babies were born; tearing me apart and leaving me broken. The waiting was painful. During this period I probably attended eight or nine baby showers; which ended up being an opportunity for God to show me His love. It was hard to put on a brave face every time, but the Lord really showed me that not being able to celebrate for someone else would only harden my heart, and I didn’t want that. I vividly remember leaving one baby shower in tears, but I felt covered by His love in that moment. I knew my time would come.
Eventually we brought home our baby boy, one designed just for us, and in our blessing God used us to bless someone else. Jackson’s birth mother was a young woman who wanted her child to have more than she could provide; including a mother and a father. In our brief time with her at the hospital, I prayed that God give me my words, and that I would only speak what would give her peace. I knew that we might never see her again, so I wanted her to know just how much we loved her and her child. Her parents were also there. I know this was difficult for them. Thinking back, I know the Lord ordered our steps and he hovered over that moment, bringing so much joy instead of hurt. When I took Jackson in my arms, his birth mother leaned in and whispered, “You’re gonna be great.” Those words have stayed with me, lived in me, filled me, and God brought it to fruition. His plan, His perfect plan, brought together a couple dealing with infertility and a woman in a hard situation, and made something beautiful.
*Sissy and Charlie kept their adoption of Jackson a surprise from their family until they brought him home. This is a video of their moms learning that they were now grandmothers!*